You are absolutely fine …!!!

A lot of us suffer from some form of social anxiety in this fast paced evolving world.

Social anxiety expresses itself in many forms, the most common one being the fear of public speaking. Severe shyness, an unwillingness to enter situations where conversation with strangers (and sometimes even people we know) may become necessary can all be symptoms of social anxiety.

To the person involved it may be incredibly debilitating and distressing to the point where it completely dominates their life. Modus operandi for the majority of people that suffer from social anxiety is to make every effort to avoid the circumstances that can trigger an attack.

Everything you say, think or do is a communication with yourself

When you avoid something through fear, you are telling your unconscious mind that danger is present and it stores that message for similar events in the future.

In severe cases avoidance can lead to depression, as people withdraw further and further into their shell to avoid whatever it is they believe will cause them problems.

We are all born with fight or flight response. If we perceive a situation as dangerous then avoiding it is the natural and sensible evolutionary response.

The same cannot be said for social interaction. Even though the Internet offers a lot of opportunities to avoid a great deal of human interaction, to do so entirely is almost impossible and not recommended. Spending a life time avoiding social interaction can be exhausting, demoralizing and fruitless.

Help me

The starting point with making change and overcoming shyness, social anxiety, panic disorders, etc. is accepting that there is nothing wrong. Our body works just as it was designed to under the circumstances.

When you get anxious – mouth will dry up, you will feel weakness in the limbs and will develop palpitations. Hence, heart speeds up dramatically allowing body to distribute blood and oxygen to muscles in case you need to fight or run away from the situation.

PANIC does not recognize logic or common sense. Most people try to deal with their fears by either avoiding them completely or trying to rationalize them away and neither approach is effective. Avoiding fears exacerbates them and makes us less able to deal with them when they arise again.

There is a reason every soldier is subjected to extreme stress under managed conditions prior to being given the orders to fight the enemy. By replicating hostile conditions over and over and over again, the army are creating new default behaviors and increasing the likelihood that the soldiers’ fight or flight response won’t kick in when they face real enemy.

If you have panicked in the past under certain circumstances there is a high probability that you will do so again if same situation arises. Feeling nervous is an emotion the same as feeling happy, optimistic, melancholy, serious, cheerful etc. Nobody ever died from feeling cheerful and equally nobody ever died from feeling nervous.

You have always been breathing … but BREATHE NOW

We have many aspects – funny, happy, miserable, curious, whiny, serious and playful you.

Unfortunately most of us bury the parts of our personality that we do not like.

If we try and ignore the more needy sides of our personality, they will come back to bite us. Being kind to ourselves mean accepting that we are not perfect and it means not abusing ourselves when things go wrong.

Observe feelings rather than judging them. Respect it, talk lovingly to it and most of all, invite it to find alternate ways of doing things. In any event, it is more sensible than repeating behaviors that have been proven time and again to be unsuccessful.

If you want to learn a new skill, the way you do that is first practicing it under regular circumstances. Do not try and teach yourself deep breathing when you are in a panic situation, because you will fail. Practice deep breathing consciously whenever you get a moment to do so. The more you do this, the more you will be able to remember to do so when panic strikes. You can practice while watching TV or travelling or anywhere you need to be breathing, so no excuses. Deep breathing has all sorts of positive health benefits.

It will not remove all your stresses, but it will allow you to talk and breathe at the same time which can be remarkably useful on occasions.

See What You Want

Our brain is not trained at distinguishing between what is real and what is not. Everybody visualizes on a regular basis. If you were asked what color your first car was, you would make a rapid visual construction of it in your brain before answering.

Think of any potential situation where inappropriate fear may cause you difficulties. Then start to imagine with as much clarity as you can, things going well, really well.

The best time to visualize is the first thing in the morning just after you wake up and last thing at night just before you doze off. The latter is great as you give your unconscious mind plenty of time to process whatever it is you want it to process.

Say What You Want

Not only is our mind not great at distinguishing between fact and fiction, it is also not that brilliant at determining negatives, especially when under pressure. When I say – Don’t think about an elephant in a pink dress – that is exactly the first image that comes to your mind.

If you use “DON’T” at the beginning of a sentence, you first have to understand what it is you don’t want to do, before you can avoid it. Therefore, you have to generate the pink elephant visualization before you can know what it is that I don’t want you to think about.

This is the entire philosophy behind AFFIRMATIONS and the reason why schools came to the conclusion that giving positive commands to kids works better than negative ones. In other words, telling kids not to run in corridor was less effective than telling them to walk.

The problem is that when we are under pressure, we often tell ourselves what we don’t want – “I don’t want to panic, I don’t want to panic!!!” Each time that happens, the brain has to explain to itself what panicking is and it worsens the process. Give yourself positive commands and advice such as: “I would like to be fully relaxed now”; “I want to breathe deeply and slowly”

And finally

It’s not the nerves that are the problem; it is how you react to them.

Dr. Sumit Goel

Doctor, Author and Motivator

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